The Government needs to increase social welfare payments by 20% and the minimum wage should rise to nearly €13 per hour, according to Social Justice Ireland.
In its latest pre-budget briefing document, the independent think-tank says that the most vulnerable must be protected as the cost-of-living continues to surge.
Tax-increases are ‘unavoidable’ in the coming years, SJI notes – and urges Government to invest in social housing and climate change projects.
On Newstalk's Breakfast Briefing on Monday morning, SJI Director Sean Healy said a 20% social welfare increase is the bare minimum needed.
“We didn’t just pluck this figure out of the air,” he said.
“In the last three budgets, two of them gave no increase whatsoever to core welfare rates and the other one, the most recent one, gave an increase of €5.
“That means in effect that the actual value of the welfare payment has fallen by almost €20 and that doesn’t take into account inflation in 2023. So, a minimum increase of €20 is a must,” Mr Healy said.
Labour leader Ivana Bacik said an emergency budget is needed to help people struggling with the cost of living crisis.
“Despite doing everything ‘right’, working hard, cutting back on discretionary spending, working people are really struggling. An unexpected trip to the doctor, childcare provision or birthday party means people are going hungry to keep the lights on. The cost of living crisis, compounded by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, is leaving less and less money in people’s pockets.
“There are measures government can take to help working people. During Covid we saw the power of the State to protect people and I am reiterating Labour’s call for an emergency budget to help people’s money go further.
“The ESRI recently showed that the rising cost of energy must be addressed and that increased targeted support is needed. The income eligibility threshold for the fuel allowance is simply too low, and far too many hard pressed working households don’t qualify. It must be increased to help those who need it most.
"Labour is also calling for a second band of eligibility, which would pay the allowance at a half rate, to assist people who are pinned to their collar," Deputy Bacik said.
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.